Available on Windows PC, PS4
Played on: Windows PC
In the 2014 sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise gains a power that lets him restart a day after his death. Each “run” he learns something new about the war against the aliens. Stories: The Path of Destinies features this same neat idea. The intersecting story works well, but repetitive levels and limited content prevent Stories from becoming truly memorable.
What Does the Fox Say?
The world of Stories: The Path of Destinies takes place in a fantasy land of flying air ships and talking animals. You play as Reynardo, a charismatic swash-buckling fox. The mad emperor’s armies are bearing down on the rebel base. It’s up to Reynardo to make the right decisions to save everyone.
The story is told through a magic book you find during the prologue. After each of the relatively quick levels you’re given an important decision to make. Save a friend or find a weapon? Sacrifice the general’s daughter or appeal to your past relationship? It’s the video game equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.
The unique structure is a lot of fun. The result of each of the twisting paths is in a new entry in the book. There are four important truths to learn about the major players and artifacts along the way. Unlocking all four reveals the one true path.
Over 20 choice-filled combinations exist, but I easily unlocked all four truths after only five runs, completing the game at well under 10 hours. Though I still had some skill points left to attain, I’d acquired all the strongest swords and gems. Soon I was skipping every treasure chest I saw. Due to the time-travel nature of the plot you end up repeating the limited levels over and over again, and enemies never get much tougher or more varied.
The world’s vibrant art and cheeky narrator make for a classic indie game formula. But the gameplay is pure arcade action. Reynardo quickly dashes around the battlefield, delivering colorful sword swings and well-timed counter attacks. There’s a specific rhythm to each encounter as you work up a combo bonus for more explosive strikes.
Swords come in a few different flavors, from an ice weapon that freezes foes to a Hero Sword that simply heals you. Reynardo can’t take too many hits but checkpoints are frequent and I never felt frustrated.
Leveling up provides skill points and a few new abilities. A hookshot lets you pull enemies and traverse the world. The dash attack lets Reynardo zip around the battlefield. Most of them passively increase Reynardo’s offense and defense, along with random gems you can find to increase your power.
Aside from a few stealth sections and rudimentary puzzles you’ll be fighting the same evil ravens throughout snowy mountains, burning cities, and underground temples. Enemy types are disappointingly limited. A few long range spellcasters and shield-carrying grunts make things just slightly trickier.
Stories is rated T for Teen by the ESRB for Violence, Blood, and Mild Language. I didn’t notice any actual blood, and violence is very cartoon-like and stylized. Reynardo’s bravado allows him a few “damns.” The tone is a bit mature with soul-stealing artifacts, cruel betrayals, love and loss, and, of course, Reynardo’s many, many deaths at the end of the wrong choices.
With a neat “Try it again” story I was hoping the content in Stories: The Path of Destinies would keep up with the many unique combinations. Ultimately I ended up mastering the combat, loot, and abilities after only a few hours. It’s fascinating to watch as one decision can turn a lover into an enemy, and new truths weave into future stories in meaningful ways. While the combat is fun and action-packed it’s incredibly limited and quickly grows repetitive. A really neat story that just doesn’t have quite enough gameplay to match.